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New Owner of Chip and Joanna’s Famous ‘Barndominium’ Won’t Back Down to Rent Despite Couple’s Wishes

Kristi Bass is the owner of the “Barndominium” – a former horse barn/attic apartment turned into a 2700 sq. foot single family home.

The home was called the “Barndominium” by HGTV stars Chip and Joana Gaines after the “fixer upper” appeared on their show.

Despite the renovation being one of Joanna’s favorites, the “Barndominium” drew criticism after the finished product aired during the third season of “Fixer Upper” in spring 2016 and was called “unlivable.”

“Fixer Upper” fans were pretty baffled by the barn’s final layout that saw the kitchen relegated to the upstairs:

“Love the show but this was my LEAST favorite renovation. Did not like this layout/decor at all. The long table, the trek upstairs to the kitchen — just not loving it. No no no,” one commenter reportedly lamented.

After the contentious design reveal, the original owners of the “Barndominium,” the Meek Family, reportedly had to move out for a new job – a report which has yet to be confirmed.

However, in August 2016, the Waco Tribune reported that the “Barndominium,” which sleeps 15, along with five other Waco-area homes — where the show films almost exclusively — that had been featured on the show were available for rent online through Vacation Rental By Owner (VRBO) and Airbnb.

The “Barndominium’s” second owner, Kristi Bass,

told the Tribune in another article at the time that when the property suddenly went up for sale she saw it as a great opportunity for vacation rentals:

“I didn’t know how famous the barn was,” she said. “It’s cool. It’s weird. I don’t really get it, but I’m so thankful I can be a part of it.”

The only thing standing between Bass and her dream of having another rental property to her business was a permit for the residential area.

Lacy Lakeview City Manger Keith Bond told the Tribune the prospect of operating the “Barndominium” was exciting and sure to draw attention to the area.

However, in October 2016, the permit was denied by a city council vote of 3-3, following months of discussion and hearing the concerns of neighbors.

Good Housekeeping reports that Bass’s second attempt at obtaining a permit to run the famous “Barndominium” was just recently denied a second time, as well. Bass told the Tribune it’s not over:

“Unfortunately, when I’m called to a fight, I’ll show up. I didn’t want to go this direction. I tried to give an olive branch.”

Bass cited the creation of new ordinances as preventing her from being granted a permit, saying:

“You can’t change the rules of the game in the middle of the game. … I find it a misuse of fiduciary and judicial responsibility. None of these issues were even brought to the council until a resident was on the council and made issue of it,” she said.

Council members expressed their concerns that Bass had been operating the structure as a rental property without a permit despite being told not to, residential zoning, and the interests of neighbors as reasons why the permit was denied.

Bass reportedly only received one vote in her favor.

When the Gaines camp first caught wind that their labors of renovated love were being used as rental properties instead of private family homes, spokesman Brock Murphy told the Tribune in 2016:

“We have no problems with our clients’ interest in using sites like VRBO and Airbnb to rent out their homes. In fact, we get it. But we are going to be more strict with our contracts involving ‘Fixer Upper’ clients moving forward.

We want to honor our national viewing audience. We want to do remodels for clients’ homes. That’s the true intent of our show, and we want to ensure that does not get lost in this new vacation rental trend.

What started off with perfectly understandable intentions could cast a shadow of a doubt on the much bigger picture, and we are going to do our best to protect that moving forward.”

No word on how Bass’s rental dilemma — or the vacation rental trend — will play out on the future of the show, but Waco is sure to see a lot more activity regarding the matter.